East Hawaii News

Drought Conditions Provide Potential for Increased Hawai’i Wildfire Season

May 2, 2016, 12:05 PM HST
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2012 Hawai'i County Fire Department file photo.

2012 Hawai’i County Fire Department file photo.

Hawai’i could be at a higher risk than usual for potential wildfires through August, according to the National Interagency Fire Center’s Fire Potential Outlook.

The outlook, released Sunday, outlines wildland fire risk across the nation.

In Hawai’i, rainfall dipped below its usual in April, increasing already dry conditions across the state. Drought conditions have intensified with the lack of rainfall.

Despite an anticipated weakening of El Nino conditions, Hawai’i’s dry season is on its way to making dry conditions even drier.

These conditions have led to anticipated “above normal” significant wildland fire potential in Hawai’i.

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Arizona and New Mexico were also among the areas in the Southwest with a projected increased threat of wildfires early in the season. North and west states, like California and Nevada, are also anticipated to have wildland fire risk increased.

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South-Central Alaska is listed as vulnerable to increased wildland fires in May, but is expected to have an improved outlook throughout summer.

After the release of the assessment, Senator Brian Schatz issued a statement noting that the elevated threat is a seriously matter.

“This elevated threat of wildfires in Hawai‘i should be taken seriously,” said Senator Schatz. “I am working with the Department of the Interior and the Senate Appropriations Committee to ensure that adequate funding for fire prevention and response will be available for Hawai‘i as we move into fire season. I am also looking forward to discussing wildfire research when I meet with U.S. Forest Service officials in Hilo this week.”

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The National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook is intended to support wildland managers by providing an assessment of current weather and fuels conditions and how they may evolve over the next several months.

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